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Cab operators ‘gherao’ Transport Commissioner over pending demands

Hundreds of cabs and bus operators on Tuesday ‘gheraod’ Transport Commissioner Sandeep Kumar Sultania demanding immediate resolution of their demands including reduction of Road Tax by Telangana Government and abolition of Border Tax by AP Government.

Led by Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA) President Syed Nizamuddin, the operators prevented the Transport Commissioner’s vehicle from entering the RTA office at Khairtabad. They raised slogans against the State Government for its failure to resolve the problems being faced by them. They pointed out that the TSCBOA had made several representations with the Transport Commissioner on the issue. But no action has been taken. Representations were also made with Transport Minister M. Mahender Reddy and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on April 30.

“The bus operators are facing immense hardship due to the Border Tax by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. We are being forced to pay Border Tax of Rs 330 per seat. Therefore, an operator is being forced to pay an extra tax of nearly Rs 8,000 for a 22-seater bus per single trip. This additional burden of Rs 8,000 per bus per trip has badly hurt our industry. None of us are able to operate our buses to Andhra Pradesh as we also cannot shift the additional burden on our passengers,” said Syed Nizamuddin.

Most of the contract carriage vehicles depend on tourism, mostly religious tourism, and nearly 5,000 buses are operated to destinations like Tirupati, Srisailam, Sri Kalahasti, Kanaka Durga Temple of Vijayawada and Mantralayam. Therefore, the entire travel and tourism industry will be badly affected if Government of Andhra Pradesh does not withdraw the Border Tax with immediate effect, he said.

Nizamuddin said that the rate of Road Tax from the bus operators of our State of Telangana should be slashed. The present tax of Rs 893 per seat was fixed during the united Andhra Pradesh and it was meant for all 23 districts. Despite bifurcation, the Telangana Government continued with the old rates and did not reduce them by dividing them into 10 districts. If the tax is proportionately divided into 10 districts, instead of 23, then the operators of contract carriage vehicles will have to pay about only Rs 390 per seat.

The TSCBOA also demanded that the Telangana Government should join the Agreement of Southern States on Border Tax. “There is no border tax for contract carriage vehicles for entry into Tamil Nadu and Kerela as per an agreement the Southern States had with the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh Government. After the formation of Telangana, the agreement stands valid only for AP Government, while the operators from Telangana are being forced to pay the border tax. Being the new southern State, Telangana should have been automatically be a part of the agreement. But it is not being honoured. Therefore, the Telangana Government should join the agreement so as to help the travel industry,” said Syed Nizamuddin.

He said that the delay in resolving these issues has caused immense hardship and huge financial losses to the cabs and bus operators of Telangana State. “Today, most of us are not in a position to even repay EMIs of our vehicles. The entire industry is on the verge of collapse and besides financial losses to cab operators, further delay would lead to cut in thousands of direct and indirect jobs,” he said.

The Transport Commissioner has assured to take steps to resolve the pending issues.

Meanwhile, the TSCBOA has decided to hold a day-long hunger strike on October 29 at Dharna Chowk, Indira Park to press for their demands. (INN)